Rachel Hutchinson’s goal in the 76th minute was the difference as the Trinity Western Spartans edged the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team 1-0 in the Canada West quarter-finals on Saturday.
At Chase Office Field on TWU’s Langley campus, the Cascades put in a gritty effort against the No. 5-ranked team in the nation, defending with poise and marshalling some dangerous offensive forays of their own. But they were unable to find the finishing touch in the final third, and Hutchinson broke through in the late going to end UFV’s season and send the Spartans on to the Canada West Final Four.
“I’m super-proud – we played against a good team tonight, and we battled hard and we frustrated them,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward. “We gave it our all, and we can walk off this park proud – heads up, shoulders back. I asked the girls to give everything they had, and they did.”
The Spartans had defeated the Cascades in decisive fashion in both regular-season match-ups – 5-0 on Oct. 6 in Langley, and 4-0 on Oct. 8 in Abbotsford. The UFV side played with much more poise and confidence on Saturday, and they started brightly. Early on, Brittney Zacharuk launched a terrific through ball that found Amanda Carruthers in stride, but she was unable to gain control and get a shot on target.
The Spartans were more dangerous going forward as the first half wore on. In the 24th minute, Hutchinson found some room on the right side, but sent her shot wide. Shortly thereafter, Cascades keeper Emily Harold dove to her left to snare Amy Gartke’s header.
TWU outshot the Cascades 8-1 in the second half, but UFV had a close call in the 62nd minute when Zacharuk sent a high-arcing cross into the path of Mackenzie Toop. The rookie midfielder knocked the ball down, but wasn’t able to get another touch before Trinity keeper Christina Olivierio smothered it.
The Spartans finally cracked the Cascades’ defence in the 76th. Harold leaped to her left to push a Spartans shot just wide of the far post, but Danae Derksen was there to send the ball back into the centre of the box for Hutchinson to finish from point-blank range.
“It’s a good learning experience, again, as most of the year has been,” Giesbrecht said. “In the post-season you don’t want to learn lessons, you want to win games, so it is disappointing to walk out here and our season ends tonight. But I’m really excited for the future of this team. It sucks for our fifth-year players, but we went down swinging, and that’s all I can ask of my team. We were resilient throughout the whole match.
“The shot totals might be heavy the one way (14-4 in favour of TWU), but they didn’t get that many chances. We were looking to be a bit better in the final third to give ourselves a chance, but I think we spent so much time defending, it was tough.”